• Flowers for Algernon

  • By: Daniel Keyes
  • Narrated by: Adam Sims
  • Length: 8 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (448 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Charlie Gordon, a floor sweeper born with an unusually low IQ, has been chosen as the perfect subject for an experimental surgery that doctors hope will increase his intelligence - a procedure that has been highly successful when tested on a lab mouse named Algernon.

All Charlie wants is to be smart and have friends, but the treatment turns him into a genius.

Then Algernon begins to fade.

What will become of Charlie?

Read by Adam Sims.

©1966 Daniel Keyes (P)2017 Orion Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

"A masterpiece of poignant brilliance...heartbreaking." ( The Guardian)

What listeners say about Flowers for Algernon

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Finished entire book in one sitting.

Beautiful and flawless performance by the narrator Adam Sims.
Baffled at how incredibly well the story has aged. If I didn't know it was from the 60s, and someone told that it came out just last year, I probably wouldn't even have questioned it. That's pretty rare for sci-fi, imho.

Thank you, CLSM, for recommending me this book.

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Immersive

I'm pretty new to audio books but this was the most immersive experience I had so far. The performance was really great.

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The most dynamic character ever.

It's hard not to love this book. I felt a lot of empathy for Charlie, and even though Charlie's became a true dick, I really liked him. I the ending was not as satisfying as I had hoped, but it's a really minor inconvenience.

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Adam Sims is a genius

Thank you, Adam Sims, for this. It was an amazing performance.
It's a great book otherwise as well, but I'm not sure I would have realized it.

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Recommended

Found the book to be very interesting . The story is very unique . It has a fictional side to it , usually I don’t like fiction, but it is not the main idea of the story as I see it.
If deciding to listen to it you must be ready for a very shaking and mostly sad story


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My new favourite book

Deeply emotional, true, making one reflect about happiness, identity... Brilliantly written and performed! Recommend!

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Extraordinary. Beautiful and sad.

A unique book. Fascinating, but with a very sad ending. The narration was occasionally difficult.

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I cried in my car.

I'd heard of this book and knew the plot by osmosis. But I never thought it would hit this hard once I actually got through it.

There was a point in which I realized that this story is set somewhere in the 70's and up until that point I had not realized that it was that old since the subject and the writing feel so relevant to this day and age.

It's been a couple of months since I finished it and I find myself thinking about it from time to time, asking myself what intelligence really means and what could we do with a lot more of it if we had the chance. But also, how "stupid" we actually are, how we let our own pettiness and ego get the better of us and how that is what trumps our progress as a species. How intellectual intelligence is not the same as emotional intelligence and how in order to be truly effective, they have to be earned.


It truly is a timeless classic, I cannot recommend this book enough. Also, I'm so mad that there has not been a decent movie about it.

Performance was good and immersive, I'm off to buy a physical copy of this as well.

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Charlie

I really enjoyed this book. Completely different from what I usually read. Was good .

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Really good

Not like any other book I've read. I really enjoyed it and couldn't wait to get back to it.

Different, a great story well written and well narrated.

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  • Kaggy
  • 09-05-17

He may forget himself but you never will

My first encounter with the story of Charly Gordon was many years ago when I watched the film ‘Charly’ probably in the mid-seventies. (Cliff Robertson won a well-deserved Oscar playing the title role). Charly is one of those characters that never really left me so I was delighted to be reminded of the book when it was mentioned in Matt Haig’s book ‘How to Stop Time’ and was even more pleased to find that this modern classic from the late fifties has recently been issued as a audiobook.
This story may be categorised as science fiction but in reality it is a deep exploration into the psyche of a man who up to the age of 32 has been a moron (using the delightful parlance of the day), but is then given the opportunity to massively improve his intelligence by participating in experimental surgery. What follows is a moving and tragic tale of a man who achieves everything he has ever wanted but is unable to cope with the burden of finding himself at the opposite end of the intelligence spectrum with the incumbent memories and understanding of his former life and self. He has to face up to how he had appeared to and was treated by other people, his rejection by his family and the problems brought about by his supressed sexuality and his desire to be with the woman he loves.
Admittedly there are scenes in this book that will make you weep but if you are prepared to embark on a journey with a deeply human and insightful man, you will be richly rewarded. Does this story stand the test of time? Yes it does absolutely, and it is wonderful that is getting a well-deserved revival. The narration of this audiobook is superb and I congratulate Adam Sims for so brilliantly breathing new life into Charly Gordon.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Ruddy good student
  • 01-05-18

A truly sublime and subtle Sci Fi story!

What made the experience of listening to Flowers for Algernon the most enjoyable?

It was Adam Sims brilliant characterisation of main character Charlie Gordon. Charlie moves through a lot of emotional and psychological changes, throughout the course of the novel and Sims delivers a highly detailed, thoroughly believable and utterly convicted range of performances, depending on the latest development with Charlie.

What did you like best about this story?

'Flowers For Algernon' is perhaps one of the better pieces of Sci-Fi that I have read and there's not space ship or any aliens in sight, in this story. I have always enjoyed quite grounded Sci-Fi that could actually exist here and now and Keyes excels in this, providing an excellent and very subtle Icarus tale of how we might come to hate it, when science gives us everything that we've ever wanted. In this vain, you could compare it to the likes of 'Black Mirror'.

Which character – as performed by Adam Sims – was your favourite?

Charlie Gordon. I must say that his other characters were not as well performed and Sims did not even try to change his intonation when speaking the female parts.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Frustration. I mean this in no bad way! I am empathic of Charlie's frustrations at his inability to communicate himself effectively, at the start and sympathise, as his intelligence grows much faster than his emotional maturity, which causes rifts in his personal relationships. At the same time, I can ally myself with the supporting characters, who find Charlie frustrating as his mind expands and he becomes more and more full of his own self importance.

Any additional comments?

The writing style and narration at the beginning of this novel is amazing. When the story starts, Charlie has very low intelligence and makes a lot of grammatical and spelling errors, which Keyes deliberately includes, forcing his reader to inhabit the feeble mind of Charlie Gordon. In the audio version, Sims does a magnificent job of narrating these early sections, with audible sounds of exasperation and a lot of repetition of long, complicated words, as Charlie struggles to pronounce them correctly.

My main criticism of 'Flowers For Algernon' is it's completely unimpressive female characters. There are 4 in total and each fall into a horrible stereotype. I would demonise the book for this more, if it weren't for the fact that it was written in the 60's, where such archetypes were prominent.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sigrin
  • 06-21-18

Simply marvellous


Wow this was superb, I kept having to remind myself it was written in 1958.
It’s in the genre science fiction but that is a discredit I feel towards this powerful thought provoking work.

The story of a mouse Algernon who was experimented on to become a genius mouse. The doctors/scientist then used this knowledge to experiment on a man named Charlie who was born as he is quoted a moron and then the slow change to genius after the experimental surgery is done.

Charlie’s insight to his previous life is gradually questioned as the story moves along and there are some upsetting realisations for him. No spoilers but things do not continue on the genius level and soon things change again.

The narrator Adam Sims was outstanding in the way he subtly changed his voice from simpleton Charlie to genius Charlie.
I am not a great fan of American narrators however he made me feel for Charlie as though he was a personal friend so plenty of tears were shed and I felt bereft at the end.

Great for book clubs or just food for thought,

4 people found this helpful

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  • MR S PITTS
  • 04-18-18

moving and awe inspiring.

I usually spend a lot of time deciphering what I am learning from a book, however I spent most of this simply in awe of how beautifully it was written and performed.

the tone of the narration flows perfectly with the book.

not a book I would have thought to read without having it recommended to me. however I found myself moved throughout and am now passing on that recommendation.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Robert Morris
  • 05-01-19

listened straight through

I didn't realise how gripping this book would be, I knew a little of the story before listening, but had no concept of how painful it would be.

A phenomenal book that I could not recommend more highly.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew Linnett
  • 05-01-18

Totally absorbing!

Fantastic listen. Some of the best voice acting i have come across. Would highly recommend as a first audiobook.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Liz I.
  • 05-01-18

Beautiful!

I pretty much listen to this book in one go! I was hooked after the 1st minute. Definitely a must read and I will be talking to anyone I can about it. Heartwarmly sad, thought provoking and beautiful.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Liv Baker
  • 02-20-22

Heartbreaking

Read for a book club. While I’m glad I’ve read it and moving away from the genre I gravitate to. I fell out of love with this book as Charlie changed. I loved him at first and the first progress reports but then with the change I began to dislike him and I don’t overly know why, other than I missed his innocence and sweetness. I found it harder and harder to pick it up.
Also the mother really shocked me, how could you not love a child only because of their lack of intelligence. Some of those passages really got me! I just wanted to scoop little Charlie up and hold him!
You can see why this is considered a classic and ‘must read’ though. It does open your mind.

1 person found this helpful

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  • hfffoman
  • 10-24-20

Memorable and intelligent

Despite not liking the narrator, and despite the whole premise of the story being something of a cliche and utterly predictable, I found this surprisingly enjoyable. It had many neat little moments which made me think, aha this was an intelligent author. And the best thing - a year later, I still have a vivid feel for it. Well worth a listen

1 person found this helpful

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  • Natasha
  • 08-24-20

Great story and narration

A captivating story and very well narrated. Very interesting to read this from the perspective of the main protagonist and see how his mind changes

1 person found this helpful

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  • Heath
  • 08-01-22

One of the best books I’ve listened too

Powerful and moving, this book changed my life for the better. Well narrated and written.

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  • bikeboy83
  • 02-06-22

Heartbreaking story, makes you think.

You have to move past some of the politically incorrect terminology early, but once you do this story provoked emotions like no other book has for me. A couple of sayings come to mind. "You don't know what you have until it's gone" and "the grass is greener on the other side". Gotta read this one.

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  • sue
  • 01-02-22

started well

Started well, but then just became very ho hum... l wont finish it too many other better books to listen too.

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  • Paul
  • 08-30-21

Excellent classic Science Fiction.

I loved the premise behind this novel. If I was the editor though I would like a couple of changes. These would only be cosmetic but I just to appease myself, the time lines need rethinking. This novel could be updated to include the advances in the medical and technology of today or future.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-14-21

Sad and beautiful.

Don't read this book if you're upset/depressed or going through something. It'll bring you down. Not in a good way. It's beautiful, but it's extremely sad. It was a great read though.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-03-21

Flowers for Algernon

loved the book. recommended following along with the book like I did as you will understand the story more and the structure of the book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-22-21

Amazing book

I think listening to this book can make you a kinder person. Do yourself and the people around you a favour and buy it

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-24-21

just do it

One of the most captivating audiobooks I've ever listened too. The narrator did a brilliant job too.

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  • wendy campbell
  • 04-26-21

Beautiful book

Loved this book! The performance by Adam Sims was perfect!! My favourite book in a long while.

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  • Tom
  • 03-03-21

Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes

A beautiful and vivid story that absorbs all feeling into that of the mind of Charlie Gordon. Become someone else for a while and get lost in the fine details of human psychology and emotion.